Jim Henson was the vision, the drive, the sense of veracity behind Sesame Street. No to say he was goody goody, he just knew a few things. First, Sesame Street kept it real. People had disagreements, injuries, accidents, quirks, mistakes and hang-ups. Muppets or human alike, everyone was a person. That’s what gave it value
Jim kept it up as long as he was around. When he passed things went for the worse. There just wasn’t the cohesion he lent. Inevitably, the hemming, the hawing, the political correctness began to set in. There are no gas pipes, no utilities actually running under the Sesame Street stage itself, so if you hear a vauge chugging, its Jim rolling in his grave.
It started with Cookie Monster.
Saying Cookie was a method actor would be a mistake. Cookie was ALWAYS that way. Never got on in life with job or school really, but he was always that friendly, boisterous guy who’d be around and help out with anything. On good terms with everyone, he always had a spare room or empty basement to crash in. Ask him for a hand, give him a couple cookies for helping out with the kids, the cleaning, or unloading a shipment at the store, and ask him back for dinner anytime. That’s all he was after. He never had any use for money, or big words or explanation either. “No love in it.” Was all he’d ever say.
Well, Jim met Cookie and offered him the job on the show. His salary? You guessed it. (A trust got set up for him too, but Jim never told him about that.) He was a natural at it, never minded cameras or got attitude. He ambled back home every night to talk with a few people in his neighborhood or help out somewhere. Always back on time for the next shoot, “Me said we would be.”, he said, when a gaffer was surprised that he was always on time without a watch.
Anyways, after Jim passed, Cookie’s was one of the first characters that had to change. Concerned people with nothing better to do than be concerned pestered and pestered. Apparently they never understood Cookie’s thing for cookies was satire. He loved them sure, and faked a binge once or twice (his only “Acting” ever.), but never really got bad. Still, had to change they told him, and passed him new scripts.
He wouldn’t play along. He just didn’t get it. Told them (in his own words, which would take awhile.) that if they didn’t want cookie monster being cookie monster, then he’d leave and they could find someone else. He was like that, no bad words, no fuss, he’d have gone right back to doing his thing around his old neighborhood.
The new production staff realized it wouldn’t do. No one could replace Cookie. Cookie wouldn’t change himself. So the only solution was to change Cookie. His consent wasn’t a concern.
They had him nabbed and tied up in a basement for a week. Threw bucket after bucket of cold salt water on him and tasered him over and over, force feeding him cookies the whole time. When Frank Hebert wrote “Thou shalt not mutilate the soul.”, it was crap like that he was talking about.
They broke him. Cookie couldn’t even be in the same ROOM as a cookie after that. The brain is an odd thing, though, and whoever they hired to work him over had specific instructions. It was as if the kicked up his thing for cookies, but redirected it onto vegetables. That’s how they got him to “be” Veggie Monster.
He could still perform, sure. The old Cookie though, he’d do the performance and go back home to life. For Veggie, it WAS his life. He just couldn’t deal with the outside world anymore. They’d have to eventually lead him off set, give him some more veggies, and set him down for the night in a back room or closet. Smacked him around when he wouldn't cooperate.
No one was surprised, after having his brain washed like that. Veggie was an addict, a mindless will to consume vegetables. He’d practically inhale shredded carrot, scarf cucumbers whole, plow through cheap cabbage and lettuce like he couldn’t stop himself, and I doubt he could. It was sad, he ate like that, but he was still so THIN, a hollowed bag of fur, desperate behind it all like a missguided vegan. The producers had to make sure no more than one pound was in his sight at any time, they were afraid he’d hurt himself. Not that they cared, he was an investment, mind.